By drawing closer to the poor, little by little we become their confidants and counselors in the worst moments of this earthly pilgrimage. We can give them the comforting words of faith and often we succeed, not by our own merit, in putting on the right road people who have strayed without meaning to.
I phoned into a radio program today, something I have always (secretly) wanted to do, but never did. I arrived 9 minutes late to a client’s home for his last session with me before being transferred to the next clinician (because I found a new career*) and clients tend to dislike the last final session. Well, since I was on the road earlier, I could call in.
Immaculate Heart Radio’s Joe Sikorra posed the question of learning from our pain and blues – mind you, not depression – clinical depression, PTSD, or suicidal ideation – but the blues. Psychiatric journals have published that a slightly negative mindset (i.e. skeptical) can support improved memory. I have been living with pain since November.
I was crying as I drove home about two weeks ago, talking out loud to myself trying to convince myself for reasons why I wanted to leave my current job. In my tears, I heard myself say “I’m leaving for my self-worth”.
The utterance surprised me.
I am worth more than working 40+ hour work days at odd hours: 10am-7:30pm with no lunch or restroom break, or late-night “on call” sessions on the phone; a salary for an LCSW that is below $60,000 including the bilingual bonus; an ever increasing demand for progress notes turned around within 24 hours with no accommodation for those of us who do NOT downgrade our personal computers to IE 8 or 9; use of our personal cell phone as a company phone to contact clients; &c.
I LOVE my adolescent clients. I frequently enjoy working with their parents. They are NOT why they are leaving. I cried after so many sessions this past week. My current supervisor has ignored these facts an chewed apart collateral sessions with parents that are more than a month old. She has made snide commentary about the fact that I have taken additional unplanned PTO days this past two weeks (An LCSW has to attend weekly 1 hour individual supervision?! An LCSW has to attend weekly 2-hour group supervision?!) She has chosen to ignore the fact that I spent more than $1.900.00 two weeks ago on fixing my car. She has ignored the fact that I had to replace a tire and the air valve system today at the cost of 4 hours.
Anyway, I called in. I spoke of how I learned that my bad mood since December taught me that I was burned out. I no longer had a case of the blues on Monday, but also Tuesday and Thursday. I took Fridays off for mental health days, and then started taking weeks off. When that didn’t work, I continued what I needed to do: pray, journal, draw, talk with friends, went to therapy.
I started interviewing and finally found a job. The day I was asked about an interview, I also had two other interviews. I realized that I needed to make a choice. Even Mary was offered a moment to not say “Fiat”. So, I just had to commit. Which one of the several offers was I going to commit to?
My mood taught me to learn how to walk away. What have the blues taught you?
*I will be working for a private, for-profit company providing therapy. I get an office, a private-practice atmosphere with someone else managing all the overhead; a 9-5. I can get a better apartment, a doggie, and find time for dating after work.
Fr. Z had some good, entertaining questions.
I can’t be bothered to come up with yet another s/n and p/w. Besides, this is clearly directed to families. I’m a single woman in my 30s.
Do you have certain personal or family customs for Christmas time?
Perhaps you readers could use this entry to share some ideas about how to make Advent and Christmas a fruitful time for yourselves and families.
Do you have an Advent calendar?
Are there any other things you do, or don’t do, for Advent? Remember, it is a time of penance, too.
Do you listen to Christmas music before Christmas or wait until after?
When do you put up your tree and when do you decorate it?
Do you eat fish on Christmas Eve? Pork hocks and lentils after Christmas? Goose?
Do you bake cookies?
Do you have stockings at the mantle or a creche?
Does the youngest child put the star or angel on the tree?
What happens in your parishes? Are there food and clothing and toy drives?
Maybe some discussion here can help other people think, in advance, about Christmas, which is fast approaching.
I’m just askin’.
As a child my sister and I would hang little wooden ornaments on a felted Christmas tree, with the little hangers being sequins, and ornaments pocketed in little embroidered felt pockets. It was charming. There’s no grand-babies yet. It’s still packed away.
I don’t keep an Advent calendar at home. I have two wall calendars in the apartment: kitchen and bedroom, both of which I’m too blind to read without my glasses. I like having the Advent wreath instead. My faux pine wreath sits on a bronze plastic charger plate from Michaels, and the candles cause the Leaning Tower of Pisa to blush at the thought she/it ‘leans’. Advent candles be falling over, yo!
I put this out with the nativity set the weekend of the first week of Advent. The Nativity set is a wooden stable with little ceramic figures; Baby Jesus is out but not with the stable. His figurine is lingering above among the shadow boxed saints’ statues I made earlier this year. He won’t descend to the stable until Christmas morning.
Ah, apartment living, what close quarters you are! No piney boughs real or fake will find vertical space to occupy. I like it that way.
Do I bake? Do I bake?!? Babydoll, I made a pumpkin pie cheesecake this weekend along with a batch of pumpkin-cranberry-pecan cookies AND pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Come, here. Ask that question again.
I’m single, in an apartment. Holiday dinners get eaten elsewhere. Tasty dinners in the past consisted of roast pork, black beans and white rice on Christmas Eve; camarones with white rice on Christmas Day. Mom complains about the amount of work involved. I don’t know what she’ll serve this year.
Parish & employer runs food drives, clothing drives, toy drives. So does my quilt guild.
I am “mourning the loss” of my vocation. In August 2015, when I went on a weekend retreat with the Carmelite sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, I was told that I would not be accepted to their order, and that I have a “gift” for working with families and “helping them heal”. I was also told that I should consider a vocation to matrimony because “you’re full of life”. Which of course my sarcasm picked up on, later. I felt completely called to their order, made peace with the little things I disliked. I was in; so I thought.
Once I was denied entrance I did not have the chance to process the loss or to even consider what would be next for me. I had the financial concerns of not high enough income to meet my basic needs, leading to several job interviews, low-balled salary offers, and my employer giving me a raise 6 months after the fact. In short, financially, I had been living 10% below COLA. Which doesn’t sound like much until I compared my $47k (pre-tax) salary with my $51, 172 annual costs. These costs were not based off of going out every week, clubbing, none of that: oil changes, rent, LADWP, car insurance and loan, student loans, and health bills all added up to more that I could earn in a single year.
Last year’s ordeal ended with a raise just before the holidays, but not before I had learned to can jams and jellies for family and friends for Christmas – taking 10$ for food and $10 for supplies. My sister and her then-fiancé gifted my parents great things, I, jam. Beautiful Cran-raspberry jam. Anyone who returned the jars over time has gotten new jellies and jams: blueberry-Lemonade, watermelon, raspberry.
Fast forward to December 2016, I have my license, making me an LCSW. I hope to move at the end of my lease to a different area and cleaner, more spacious apartment. I will begin looking for new work. As usual, I’m making quilts and playing with my 2 hamsters in the evenings. This fall I made apple-pomegranate jam. I enjoy it for giving treats, but not as a solitary Christmas gift which I was forced into last year.
Have a blessed Advent.
I have started to read it, about a chapter per day. The way my brain works is I analyze each sentence within itself, and within the paragraph.
Reading this is probably bad for my health.
Chapter 1 didn’t have much to pick at since it’s Scripture. Oh, Chapter 2, why ….!
Want to see what I plastered all over my facebook page? LOL
Unlike the rest of my FB feed, I’m slowing reading Amoris Laetitia. This is in paragraph 36:
“We need a healthy dose of self-criticism. Then too, we often present marriage in
such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation.”
It’s not an Ideal, it’s what God has called us to do, if called to the vocation of marriage: to be of mutual assistance to each other, dying of self in service of the other spouse. An Ideal cannot be obtained, but if marriage is lived according to it’s vows, in the meanest sense, I fail to see how the “ideal” cannot be anything but achieved. And secondly, it is not I, or you, who informed our First Parents, and thus by continuation to ourselves [if this does not apply to us, then neither does the stain of original Sin], “be fruitful and multiply”. God said thus, and it is so.
”At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.”
What is the difference between an Ideal family and a Real family? I see idealized families on television, but I see Real ones depicted in all 73 books of the Holy Bible: I’ve seen stories of old couples who’ve never strayed from each other (Book of Tobit), wives leaving husbands due to hardship (i.e. Job), let’s split hairs when it comes to David, or his son, Solomon and all his concubines. No, theological foundations of family are not squared up. Secondly, to expound that the families depicted in the Bible are far-removed from the “possibilities of real families”, I have to wonder what this means. If I may step aside for a moment and say: There is a concept I teach my families – if you create the expectation their daughter/son/spouse will arise to the occasion; it will be difficult and successive failures until the goal is met – Yet how many of us boast of our failures? Assuredly, St. Paul tells us to do so, but in the context of God’s grace. However to merit God’s grace we need to be cooperating with Him! This paragraph suggests to me that we ought to consider ourselves as meritorious without having to change anything. To call God’s call to holiness excessive…!
“We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”
Is this Eau d’ Kasper?
“Yet we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness. Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery.”
I am so confused. In the upper portion of , he’s discussing how there are good, faithful Catholics who are able to attend Mass on the minimum of Sunday Mass, Reconciliation once per year during the Easter season, and remain faithful to their vows. Yet, he devolves into saying this is not a possibility for all. How so? There is marriage, religious life or priesthood, and consecrated virginity. Those are the choices for vocation (seems generous since the Protestants only offer the vocation of marriage). Let’s devolve into the ever-shifting world of emotions (think I’m qualified to speak on the level here?). People (Who precisely?) feel (uh-huh) that the Church’s (aka Christ’s message) on marriage and Family doesn’t reflect that of Jesus. Wait, what? A house divided does not stand! If there is a problem with the understanding of what marriage and family is supposed to be and it’s not supported, perhaps it’s because you’ve got the Gay Mafia running the pulpit? Or priests who are more concerned about keeping the lights on and passing the money basket than preaching the truth, the hard truth. You know what Christ did to the woman caught in adultery? He absolved her Sin – and then told her NOT TO FORNICATE OUTSIDE OF HER MARITAL VOWS EVER AGAIN. Go, sin NO MORE. That’s not fleshly compassion. That’s spiritual compassion – keeping her from eternal damnation.
“We need to find the right language, arguments and forms of witness that can help us reach the hearts of young people, appealing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage.”
Ugh ….. You mean with the language, you use, Pope Francis? You’re so focused on being “open” and “moderns” and “accepting” that you actually lose people; no that’s too loose a phrase: You lose SOULS. We have witness. We have arguments – Tommy Aquinas just wasn’t thorough enough for you? Generosity – you mean how CRS has coupled with people glorifying in their sin; how the West refuses to aid countries for not accepting the West’s cultural imperialism?
You’ve spoke, Pope Francis, of marriage being an unattainable ideal – why would you send a mixed message- of accepting the challenge? Challenges are achievable. A marathon is a challenge. I cannot go out and complete one tomorrow because I have not trained for it. However, if you create the impression in our youth that they can be chaste until marriage, then they will meet it. Show them how instead of shying from that challenge and showing instead how to put a condom on a banana (speaking of unrealistic expectations, but I digress). You’re right in saying the Church has failed, but you’re wrong to insinuate that because the pulpit and evangelization has failed that we ought to limp into the hands of cultural damnation.
 Marital problems are “often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic for the Christian life”.17 [emphasis mine]
If one is speaking of the “Christian life”, I hardly think images of divorce, separation, civil unions, “new” marriages (one marriage ’til death, no?) come to mind. Those are the images of the world, the unsaved, the heathen/pagan, and damned.
I need to stop reading this. I’m reading it like a tired social worker who wanted to be an academic.
Maybe I’ll be less expressive of my angst tomorrow … Ha!